Friday, January 30, 2009

Gimme Shelter

The "word on the street" is Metro Louisville's Emergency Management people fouled up badly when it came to providing shelter to those suffering from ice storm damage, with only a handful of locations provided, and none within easy reach for citizens in Southwestern Louisville. It has been noted that Southern Indiana did a much better job of providing warm shelters for residents. An example: Valley High School's gymnasium sat empty although it was one of the few places that had electricity and is large enough to accommodate a number of people . I have received numerous requests for information as to why the location was not utilized as an emergency shelter. I do not have an answer, as I have not been given one by authorities responsible for such measures.

The common answer seems to be "MetroCall - 311".

Residents should make sure they are heard regarding this matter. This is the second time in four months people have been out of power for days on end. Perhaps some suggestions should be made to officials on how to properly care for their constituents without electrical service due to circumstances beyond their control. With elderly people in need of electricity to power medical devices, it seems dumb to force them to travel downtown to a crowded homeless shelter. We can do better than this. Let's make it happen.


  1. Actually, it is primarily the responsibility of the Red Cross to assess and provide shelter, and they are often in a position of providing it, only to have the places sit empty. That is precisely what happened during the flooding in the mid-90s.

  2. The Cities of Shively and Jeffersontown have opened shelters for residents. If these small cities can do it, so can Louisville the "16th largest" bestest city in America.

    World Class My Ass

  3. The Red Cross is responsible for shelters - do you REALLY want to just open your doors and invite in everyone, without having proper oversight? Read the Emergency Operations Plan for Metro Louisville, Kentucky AND the U.S. - it is their responsibility. If they aren't getting shelters opened where they are needed, CALL THEM. I doubt JCPS wants their schools used, especially when the need may continue into next week when they hope to get schools open. (Do you really want people you don't know in the school with your kids?) Remember, these jobs are handled by VOLUNTEERS who have trained to do the job on their own time and dime, and have been pre-vetted for the job. You can't open shelters you can't staff.

    How do I know, because I've been off, on vacaction time, from my paying job, as a "disaster reservist." Only reason I'm home now is to check on my family and get a shower and a change of clothes. Have you volunteered to the Red Cross to help out and get the training to be a shelter manager BEFORE this emergency happened?

  4. Thanks for commenting on this issue. Like I said, people are asking questions and aren't getting answers. You make good points and I hope your information has helped clear things up for residents.

    Thanks again,

  5. There are, by the way, only SIX PEOPLE who work for Metro EMA.

    Most people will do everything possible to avoid sleeping in shelters - even when they are opened, they tend to be underutilized. That isn't a bad thing, in my case, for example, I can't ever imagine needed to sleep in a shelter here in Louisville, I've just got too many other options. (Over the last few days, I've had a parade of family and friends through the house, some staying overnight, some just charging up electronics and warming up. (Only rule is, bring your own pillow and towels.) That's where most people go, to family or friends, and that is a good thing, after all. The few folks that stay in shelters often stay only one night - there simply isn't the demand for shelters that you might imagine.

  6. FYI: The Red Cross opened a shelter in Iroquois High School's Gymnasium last night.

  7. Yes, they will use schools, if they meet the criteria for a shelter. But if, for example, they are able to have school on Monday, what do you do with the people there? That's why schools are problematical.

    But the problem is, you can't wait until the disaster to plan for this stuff, it needs to be preplanned to ensure that each shelter is properly taken care of, has the staff and the resources. It isn't an easy job, and it is usually done by volunteers.

    Just imagine the situation during Katrina, and the Dome. That was NOT intended to be a shelter, so it was prepared to handle all the problems that occur in a large shelter situation. These churches that are opening their doors aren't generally prepared to have that many people, for that long. Little details like having sufficient toilet paper, let alone bathrooms, most churches don't have that much in the way of bathroom facilities. It can get to be a public health problem very quickly, if someone hasn't planned for this type of use. People put out food and let it sit for hours, at the wrong temp, and people get sick. (Imagine a ham sandwich that has been sitting on a tray for eight hours ....) All things the Red Cross trains for.

    Pastors, etc., if you ARE willing to be a public shelter, get with the Red Cross and get some volunteers trained for it!

  8. I think that many of the church's would be better than to have any and everybody running through schools. Sure the gym at Valley would be a big open area to cram people into but at the same time most people do not want to just sit in a gym. I think that the local church's should throw their doors open and have people come in. Most people have some type of affiliation with a church and perhaps would feel more comfortable at their church. OLC has some big areas but I have gone by it all week and did not see hardly a car in the lot. Church's are supposed to serve the community!!!?????!!!??

  9. Churches are fine, but I think some people are reluctant to seek shelter in a church setting they are not familiar or may harbor a disagreement with theologically. Those people would probably not utilize the shelter. Religion tends to divide people, so a public school gym would seem to be a better location in areas with high concentrations of people, in my opinion.

  10. The main thing is, IF you have a suitable facility, and are willing to have it used as a shelter you should -

    1) Contact the Red Cross and made the necessary pre-plans. Undertand what those pre-plans mean, planning for trash pickup, source of news, phones, etc. It's more than just throwing open the doors. Understand that many people will show up without their basic needs - bedding, towels, toiletries. They talked about bringing food, but that, in fact, isn't a great idea - since you get folks with cans of corn, pork and beans, etc., and no means to cook it. The ARC comes prepared to provide hot, decent meals for everyone - but you can't wait until the emergency to do it. (And remember, most of their folks are .... VOLUNTEERS!)
    2) Encourage your folks (church members, school staff in the area, etc.) to get the training to become shelter managers.